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Clear Channel Lays Off 9% of Work Force

Company Eliminates 1,850 Positions in Corporate, Radio, Outdoor Divisions

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Not all media companies received good news on President Barack Obama's Inauguration Day. Clear Channel Communications eliminated about 1,850 positions across its corporate, outdoor and radio divisions, representing a 9% of the company's work force.

Mark Mays
Mark Mays
"As I've mentioned previously, we are facing an unprecedented time of distress in the general economy -- and the ripple effects have hit some of our largest customers hard," CEO Mark Mays wrote in an internal memo this afternoon.

Clear Channel has been one of the companies most vulnerable to the prolonged woes of the declining automotive and retail industries, which account for the biggest percentage of ad dollars for Clear Channel's local radio and outdoor divisions. Mr. Mays continued, "One of the things that has kept Clear Channel strong throughout our history is a willingness to deal with difficult situations today in order to secure a strong future. It is this trait that has gone furthest in establishing us to weather many difficult downturns in our 37-year history. It always requires clarity, collaboration and courage."

How it compares
In a separate internal document, the company measured Clear Channel's total head-count reduction against the layoffs of other major companies. It fell on the shorter end of a range that included Citigroup (20%), the Associated Press (10%), Yahoo (10%) and Time Warner (6%.)

Reports also suggested that Clear Channel was shifting toward a more nationally based programming model to cut costs at the local level, a move that would coincide with the company's recent overhaul of its ad-sales staff. Earlier this month, Katz Media Group, the advertising-rep-firm subsidiary of Clear Channel, eliminated 122 positions, or 8.5% of its work force, in an effort to consolidate the respective ad-sales teams at Katz and Clear Channel.

Mr. Mays said in his memo, "Starting now, it is our ability to bring creative thinking to the current business climate -- to focus on the benefits we deliver for customers, to show extreme focus and commitment -- that will create results."

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